Self-esteem. Lesson #2. Take Responsibility

Posted: July 25, 2011 in Self-esteem, self-respect
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OK, hopefully by now you’ve done the first lesson – deciding to have self-esteem.

If you have done that, then good for you. If you haven’t, go back and read the first lesson and when you’ve done that, come back to this one. Based on the emails I’ve been receiving (and I think I’m caught up on all of my responses) many of my readers are enjoying this and have all ready noticed a big difference. I am always glad to hear this and to hear from you. Please keep them coming.

Now we go onto lesson #2 and it’s simple:

Take responsibility for your self-esteem

Sounds easy, right? Well, in theory it is but what I’ve come to learn and realize is that this is 24/7. When I use the word responsibility, I’m not talking about feeling bad or shameful or having the viewpoint that this is something you “just have to do because someone said so,” or anything along those lines.

What it means is accepting the fact that it is up to you to have it or not have it. It is a self-determined action you take because you want to and for no other reason than that.

Besides, who says you must have a reason for anything? You don’t. You can do something just because you want to.

Remember, you’re the only one that can give away or take back your self-esteem. No one else has that power over you but you. Self-esteem is only about how you feel and respect yourself. If it is high, then your actions will show it. The same is true if it is low.

Many years ago, I made some changes that actually helped me to feel better about myself. You might want to do them also and see if it helps you.

1)      Stopped buying and reading women’s magazines.

I grew up reading magazines for teenagers. I was fascinated by make-up and hair styles and clothes. Unfortunately for me at the time, I looked the exact opposite of what was fashionable. At that time, everyone wanted straight blonde hair. I have curly and unruly black hair.

I spent most of my teenage years with large curlers in my hair with a cap. This complimented the braces, headgear and acne cream that was slathered all over my face. The 30 extra pounds I was carrying was just a bonus.

At that time, Yardley was the most popular brand and eventually Twiggy arrived on the scene and the excessive dieting started. As hard as I tried, there was nothing I could do about my hair. It was hopeless, but my whole life was devoted to straightening it and then avoiding any and all situations that would make my hair frizz. This meant never going to San Francisco unless I could tie my hair back. I lived in the pool as a child but the moment I decided I wanted to look like everyone else, I stopped going and the few times I did go, I made sure not to get my hair wet.

Yes, it is possible to go swimming without getting your hair wet. It’s very difficult and requires a tremendous amount of maneuvering and staying away from anyone who might splash you. I became very good at treading water in an attempt to look super cool.

I hated getting out of the pool and would rush back to the lounge chairs and try to cover up what my brothers referred to as “thunder thighs” while at the same time feeling quite envious of the thin, tan and blonde girls.

But I was reading these magazines all the time along with every romance novel I could find. I was convinced that if I just bought the next product I would be the way they said I was supposed to be.

I kept this up until my mid-30’s when I realized that I had been reading the same articles for years. Sure, it was a different name of the product but the message was the same – “You’ll never be good enough until you a) buy this product or b) wear this outfit or c) look exactly like these models.”

The reason these models get paid so much is because NO ONE looks like them. I starved myself. I got up every morning and jogged in the dark with my Mom and a neighbor. I drank diet sodas, stopped eating sugar and no matter what I did or how much weight I lost, I still didn’t feel like I was good enough.

Why? Was it because of what the magazines and TV shows were telling me? Not really, though they aren’t much help because in order to sell you something they first have to make you feel like you need to change something about yourself.

No, I felt this way because I agreed with them. I held the magazines and TV shows up as the right way to be for me. I decided that they knew who and what I should be and as long as I kept buying into it, they would continue to sell it.

There wasn’t a particular moment of clarity for me but I do remember the last magazine I bought. I don’t even remember the name of it, but I felt myself feeling worse and worse about myself until I threw it across the room and watched it hit the wall and fall to the floor.

I was done and I haven’t looked back since.

I also stopped worrying about how I looked or what I weighed. Instead I researched and concentrated on my health and let the weight go where it wanted to go.

I disagreed completely and totally with all of it.

I let my hair be curly and I wore what I liked and what I could afford.

Then I did the next thing:

2)      Stopped watching TV.

This is a hard one for most. At the time, we didn’t have the internet and I would watch a movie once in a while, but I stayed away from any form of entertainment that I thought was stupid and mindless. I would read a book or call someone and the few times I would sit in front of the TV, I would be very selective about what I watched. I would still be envious of the perfect women with perfect clothes and make-up and hair, but now I was aware that it made me feel bad about myself. When that happened I would:

3)      Find something I liked about myself.

This could be anything from my smile to my curly hair to my uneven jaw. It didn’t matter just as long as I found something that I liked. It works every time.

So when we are talking about taking responsibility for yourself, it is acknowledging the fact that you control how you feel about yourself and all of your actions. It’s also admitting that outside influences affect us and deciding to either not let them or disagreeing with them to such an extent that we remove them from our lives.

I strongly suggest staying away from anyone or anything that makes you feel less than great about yourself.

In summary, try doing the following this week:

1)      Don’t buy or read another woman’s magazine.

2)      Turn off the TV and internet and find something else to do like reading, writing, walking. Anything except watching TV.

3)      Everyday write down one or more things that you like about yourself.

4)      Email it to me and let me know how you are doing.

I have the utmost faith and confidence in you. Disagree with anyone who tells you who you should be or how you should look. They don’t know what they are talking about.

Even me if you think so. How you feel about yourself is senior to anyone else. What you think is what you think and you don’t need anyone’s approval. Not now. Not ever.

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